The Purpose of a Resume for Candidates and Employers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 24, 2022 | Published November 5, 2021

Updated November 24, 2022

Published November 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Most job seekers and employers understand resumes as a tool for applying for new jobs and screening employees. Job seekers frequently submit their resumes when applying for open positions, highlighting their skills and qualifications as a professional, while employers use candidate resumes to collect information and analyze trends about the job market that can help them improve their hiring process. Learning more about the purpose of a resume can help you create one that is more effective.

In this article, we describe the purpose of a resume, explain how you can use a resume effectively, and review how employers use resumes.

What is the purpose of a resume?

The purpose of a resume is to help you introduce yourself and demonstrate your suitability for a role to employers. A resume is a one or two-page informational document that tells your career story and outlines your qualifications in an easily readable and accessible format. Most resumes follow a standard template that includes your contact information, objective statement, a summary of qualifications, employment history, education, and skills.

When written correctly, your resume can be an important part of whether a hiring manager considers you for a role. Submitting a resume is often the first step in the job application process. Employers typically review your resume before extending an interview or job offer.


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How can you effectively use a resume?

There are many ways you can use resumes throughout your career. Whether it's applying for jobs or keeping a formal document of career experiences, resumes can help you advance in your career. Here is a list of ways that you can effectively use resumes throughout the general job application process:

Sending information to employers

One of the main purposes of a resume is to convey information regarding your skills and qualifications to employers and hiring managers. Your resume helps them determine if your skills and qualifications match the requirements of the role. They can use the information on your resume to make an initial assessment of your qualifications, and to determine whether to schedule an interview with you. Your resume demonstrates the roles that you have had, the duration of each experience, and your responsibilities and achievements in each role.

Employers usually review the content of your resume and assess the way you communicate information on your document. Resumes generally follow a professional template. It is important that you demonstrate attention to detail, ensure there are no errors, and tailor the content to each job posting. It's also beneficial to include measurable achievements and keywords included in the job listing to help demonstrate how your skills and knowledge align with the position.

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

Introducing yourself to employers

Your resume is also useful for introducing yourself to employers and is often the first impression they have of you. By submitting your resume, the employer has the opportunity to review your qualifications and learn more about your personality. You can also consider using your resume as an opportunity to showcase your creative abilities through the use of different colour schemes and resume templates.

This may be especially important if you are interested in a creative role, such as in graphic or UX design. For example, designers often make their resumes more creative to showcase their design and creative skills. They might add branding colours, icons, and other creative elements that align with the company they are applying to in order to make a better impression and be more memorable to hiring managers. When creating your own, aim for a balance between being creative and maintaining professionalism. This can allow you to demonstrate your personal style without distracting employers from the content of your resume.

Related: The Best Fonts for Your Resume

Listing your skills to employers

One of the most important components of your resume is the skills section. It's often the first thing employers read to learn more about your suitability for the job role. Your skills section can describe the knowledge you have gained as a result of previous work positions, volunteer work, or education. If you have a long list of skills, be sure to tailor them to the role you're applying for to help increase your chances of impressing the hiring manager.

To help prove your proficiency in the various skills you list, consider including measurable achievements. For example, a human resource manager might say they helped reduce employee turnover by 20% after implementing a new hiring process. Metrics quantify your achievements to give recruiters a better understanding of how well you can apply your skills on the job.

Related: How to Write Job Descriptions for Your Resume (With Examples)

Documenting your career development

A resume is also a record of your career history. It often lists your most relevant and impressive projects and work experience as you progress through your career. It provides details about your career milestones, lists the dates that you earned each achievement, and explains the length of each experience. Once you have created your resume, you are able to review the document to better understand your development as a professional. Resumes can also act as a reference to help you quickly answer questions related to your employment history while in an interview.

How do employers use resumes?

Employers also use resumes in various ways to learn about candidates and understand the job market. Here is a list of ways that employers may use resumes:

Analyzing industry trends

Employers and recruiters see many resumes when hiring for a job. Over time, they may notice trends in the information they see from applicants for the same position. Employers can analyze these trends and learn more about the knowledge and training candidates typically have when they apply. They can also use industry trends to better understand the types of candidates that apply to their company. This helps them identify ways to improve how they attract new employees or improve their hiring process to attract better talent.

Assessing personal brand and online presence

Candidates share much of their life online that employers can easily find. The information posted on social profiles can affect a candidate's reputation and likelihood of getting offered a job. Employers may compare the information they find online with the information on the resumes they receive to determine the validity of a candidate's qualifications and skills and whether they appear to have the same values as the company. Offensive or unprofessional content often discourages employers from advancing further with an application.

Some candidates include links to personal websites, portfolios, and other files that showcase their work, qualifications, and personal branding. These websites give employers more ways to investigate specific candidates and determine if they are a good fit for the role.

Related: What is a Work Portfolio and How to Curate One

Analyzing the job market

Resumes provide employers with an idea of the current job market, the types of candidates available, and whether it's a good time to recruit new employees. Some employers find it challenging to shortlist candidates that suit the role they are hiring for. Employers often use information in resumes to identify which candidates are the most suitable for the open positions.

Improve job descriptions

Employers use the resumes they receive to improve job descriptions of future roles. Based on the information from resumes, employers can refine details, such as salary, skills, and responsibilities for their future job openings. Employers also rewrite job descriptions or postings to more accurately align with the current job market and industry trends and remove information that is no longer relevant. It allows them to better attract the candidates they want.

Related: How to Create Creative Job Titles (With Roles and Salaries)

Identifying specific keywords

Some employers use applicant tracking systems to screen resumes and filter for keywords relating to the responsibilities of the job description. These sophisticated tracking systems sort applicant resumes according to standards set by the employer using a specific set of keywords they want candidates to include in their applications. Employers review resumes that pass the initial screening. They may then provide invitations for interviews to candidates that have the skills and experience required for the open position.

Identifying specific keywords on resumes help employers shortlist the candidates they believe have the most relevant resumes. Keywords help employers progress through the hiring process faster and spend more time reviewing the resumes they receive before progressing to the interviewing and onboarding stages of the hiring process.

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